October 28, 2018: a reader was kind enough to make a recommendation -- The New Journalism by Tom Wolfe. I'll order a copy and post a short note after I read it. Thank you very, very much.
Last night I was talking with two educators who taught English and loved reading. After about fifteen minutes, the conversation turned to Hunter S. Thompson.
We all agreed that there really was no other writer that one can compare to Hunter. Some writers have tried "copying" Hunter's style but we agreed that no one has been successful.
Tonight I started reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I've read it three or four times; something draws me back to it every five or six years it seems.
Tonight, while reading it, ... wow, it sounded just like Hunter S Thompson ... maybe not exactly his style and maybe folks will strongly disagree but consciously or subconsciously I immediately thought of Hunter S Thompson.
I was curious. I did a search of all I've written over the years on what I've read, looking to see if I've made this association before.
Incredibly, years ago, I had posted a little clipping in my diary (see below), a short little "Q&A" from the WSJ, dated February 20, 2009, in the "Dear Book Lover" column. The reader asked this question:
Sometimes you hear a person say a book "changed my life." I've often wondered what that really means. It is just hyperbole? Can a book do that? J.G., New York.
Cynthia Crossen, the "book reviewer" replied:
I'm usually suspicious of claims that a single book has been life-changing, especially if they're printed on the backs of book trying to sell something. Mostly books change lives because they change the way readers think. Or they turn a nonreader into a reader or even a writer.
But Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 by Hunter S Thompson changed the course of my life. At the time I read it, I was drifting through a post-college recession working odd jobs. Mr Thompson's druggy but crafty descriptions of the conventions that nominated Richard Nixon and George McGovern put a fire in my belly; I wanted to go to one or both of the next conventions. That mean becoming either a journalist or a politician. (I did succeed in getting credentials, but wasn't able to attend.)
At a younger age, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier changed my life ... with a "you-can-do-that-in-a -book? thunderbolt.
And Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig probably changed my life because of his ruminations on why we ask the question "What's new? so much more than "What's best?"
I find that incredible. I've read all three books; loved them all; two more than the third. But of the tens of thousands of books Ms Crossen has read, reviewed, and/or recommended, she mentioned three, one by Hunter S Thompson and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
What are the odds?